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83%, 50%, 10x, 63,000, 97%, 32%, 44%: An Epidemic Thriving Among Us

Sexual assault occurs in epidemic proportions among the population of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD): 83% of women with developmental disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, and of that group, for nearly 50%, sexual assault will occur 10+ times.


  • Used to be referred to as “mental retardation”
  • Are irreversible
  • Affect learning and information processing
  • Are not a mental illness
  • Result in a REDUCED ability to learn, not an INABILITY to learn.

An estimated 63,000 – 87,000 Coloradans live with an I/DD. Their sexual assault is not random: 97-99% of abusers are known and trusted by the victim with I/DD. In 32% of cases, abusers are family members or acquaintances, and 44% have relationships with the victim specifically related to the person’s disability (such as residential care staff, transportation providers and personal care attendants). People with I/DD are targeted for sexual assault by people who know them and who often provide the services and supports they need to live: bathing, toileting, feeding, etc. And the numbers show that it happens every day in each of our communities.

Knowledge of this epidemic thriving in our communities is alarming to CCASA, so much so that it has designated resources to support member agencies in responding to it. I am a Regional Specialist hired to assist CCASA member agencies in better understanding people with I/DD and the systems designed to support them. CCASA’s ultimate goal is to help see that victims with I/DD receive the services and supports that any and all victims need. In spring I will begin outreach in 3-5 communities to help improve response to victims of sexual assault with I/DD. I am also available to answer questions, provide support, and help make connections in YOUR communities to help you improve your response to victims with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to begin to tackle the epidemic thriving in your community!

Jean Solis, M.A.

CCASA Regional Specialist

303.475.0191 — jeansolis.rtap@juno.com

Arc of Aurora Employee for 22+ Years


References:   People with Mental Retardation and Sexual Abuse, The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, .




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